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Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

The Golden Rock - November 24th, 2008 Edition

Long time no see. It’s been a very busy month, so please excuse the extended breaks.

-  In the same situation as Taiwan, Cape No. 7 entered the Hong Kong box office with a good, but not spectacular start. The now-historic Taiwanese comedy-romance-drama opened on 23 screens and made HK$586,380 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2 million. However, unlike its run in Taiwan, the opening in Hong Kong was preceded by unavoidable buzz, which makes this opening a little underwhelming. Depending on word-of-mouth, normal box office patterns suggest that this will end up making around HK$5 million, which makes this one of the better-grossing Taiwanese movies in recent years (excluding Lust, Caution, of course). Nevertheless, for a movie that beat every movie except Titanic in its native country, underwhelming is the buzz word here.

At least it did better than Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. From 32 screens, the family-friendly doggie film  made HK$1.36 million over the 4-day weekend, which means it’ll surely not repeat the success of High School Musical 3 last month. The Richard Gere-led romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe opened on 20 screens, but made only HK$400,000 over the 4-day weekend.

As for the holdovers, Quantum of Solace is still in 2nd place in its 3rd weekend, now with a 18-day total of HK$17.12 million after making another HK$507,000 from 41 screens on Sunday. Champions lost about half its audience in its second weekend, now with HK$4.42 million after 11 days. The sad part is that it’s actually quite close to the Mainland Chinese gross after two weeks, which surely makes this a not-very-successful film for Tsui Siu Ming, his Sundream Pictures, and Dicky Cheung, who still has a few more films (including his directorial debut) under his contract.

The Coens’ Burn After Reading lost two screens in its second weekend, but saw a much lower drop in its second weekend. From 18 screens, it still managed to make HK$184,000 for a 11-day total of HK$2.07 million. Last week’s limited release Bella also hung on to its audiences, still making HK$90,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$1.04 million. Detroit Metal City passed the HK$10 million mark over the weekend, and has now made HK$10.18 million after 25 days, marking this another hit for Kenichi Matsuyama in Hong Kong.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect made a total of HK$180,000 from 30 screens over 5-6 sneak preview shows over the weekend. It’ll open against plenty of newcomers over the weekend, so we’ll see whether the intended teen girl audiences will show up this weekend.

- In Hong Kong, despite the complaints about falling grosses and dying Cantonese film industries, cinemas actually saw a higher total gross than last year. Of course, this is mostly due to the major success of several Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

- It was a public holiday today in Japan, so no Japan numbers until over the next few days. However, in TV drama news, the Summer 2008 ratings winner Code Blue will get a special one-off episode in January. Can someone say film adaptation soon?

- Speaking of Patrick Kong, his new film Love Connected has just started filming, and Gold Label has already premiered a new trailer. However, there’s no actual footage from the film; it’s only a somewhat funny parody of the Connected trailer. Love Connected comes out next Valentine’s Day.

- The Good, the Bad, and the Weird was the big winner at Korea’s Blue Dragon Awards, even though it only won one of the major awards (Kim Jee-woon for Best Director). Instead, the handball film Forever the Moment picked up Best Picture, while Son Ye-jin picked up a surprise win for My Wife Got Married. The Chaser, which swept the competing Grand Bell Awards earlier in the year, only won a much-deserved Best Actor award for Kim Yoon-suk.

- Giving credit where it’s due, it was first reported on Kaiju Shakedown. Now Screen Daily has confirmed that Johnny Hallyday - not Alain Delon - will be starring in Johnnie To’s latest, about a French gangster-turned-chef coming to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter. Will this be a new Milkyway masterpiece, or another Fulltime Killer-like attempt at international filmmaking?

- Also from Kaiju Shakedown today is the news of legendary actress Josephine Siao coming back to Hong Kong cinema with a new role after finding a script that she loves enough to bring her out of retirement.

- Chinese television dramas was such a lucrative business that every other production company started making them. However, the global financial crisis and a growing backlog in the stations’ schedules has caused things to slow down, even though the major players are still doing their thang.

-  Under “Japanese music” news today, Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is releasing a brand-new compilation of their most well-known theme songs if any Ghibli fan hasn’t collected them all yet.

Mr. Children, who have been been active since 1989 and has rejected the invitation to Japan’s year-end musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen every year, has finally agreed to appear for the first time ever. Now NHK needs to get Hikaru Utada - another chronic rejection musician - to finally appear as well.

- Next month, American theaters will see Waiting for Beijing, the directorial debut of Chinese entrepeneur Alan Zhang, who worked 20 years to break into the world of cinema. However, his film was unable to get any deals at the recent American Film Market, even though he plans to make four more films in 2009.

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

- At the Korean box office, My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye-jin takes the top spot for the second weekend in a row and has cracked the one million admissions mark. Other than that, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

-  We don’t have the Japan box office numbers yet, but we have the attendance chart. As expected, John Woo’s Red Cliff takes the top spot, bumping Suspect X to second place. 20th Century Boys director Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s Where the Legend Lives (his third theatrical release this year. Where does the man find the time?!) debuts at 3rd place, with the comedy Handsome Suits debuting behind at 4th place. Last week’s major Japanese debut films The Homeless Student and Ichi drop 3 places to 6th and 9th place, respectively. Departures is also looking to finally drop out of the top 10 after 8 weeks, dropping to 10th place this week.

We’ll see the two-day weekend numbers reported soon. Meanwhile, Variety reports that Red Cliff made a phenomenal US$9.73 million from 545 screens over the 3-day weekend. Avex, who reportedly poured US$35 million into the US$80 million 2-part film, must be breathing a sigh of relief now. They expect this first installment will make 4 billion yen (roughly US$40 million).

- As requested by a reader, let’s look at the Chinese box office numbers. Wanted, which got into China to my surprise due to its violent subject matter, spends it 3rd consecutive weekend at number 1, and has now made RMB68 million. Of course, it’s nowhere near the RMB227 million take of Painted Skin, which lost another 42% in business this weekend.

Meanwhile, Chui Siu Ming’s martial arts sports film Champions could only muster a 6th place opening with just RMB2.2 million. However, it might’ve opened at a small number of screens, so who know if it’s a true flop or not? The Mainland-targeted, Hong Kong-produced film opens next weekend in Hong Kong. Yesterday, I reported the disappointing Hong Kong gross for Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers. The same adjective can be used for the film’s gross in China. After 4 weekends, it has only made RMB27 million.

- Let’s look at the Japanese drama ratings. Many of the dramas with high-rated premiere episodes aren’t holding up quite well. Kaze no Garden, which had a 20.1% premiere, has lost 24% of its audience over the last 3 weeks with a 15.4% rating for its 4th episode. The Kankuro Kudo-penned Ryusei no Kizuna is dropping even faster, having lost 30% of its audience since its 21.2%-rating premiere. Its third episode scored only a 15% rating. TBS’ Sunday drama Scandal, which started off with a promising 16.9%, has dropped to a 11.4% rating in its third week. Fuji also has a disappointment on its hands with its Monday 9pm drama Innocent Love. After its underwhelming 16.9% premiere, it dropped all the way down to a 13.3% rating in its second week.

Some dramas are holding up very well. Fuji’s Celeb to Binbo Taro is holding steady in its third week, seeing a small boost to a 15.2% for its latest episode. Aibou got a very good boost from the news of this being the last season and the popularity of the spin-off. After its impressive 17.9%-rating premiere, its second episode actually got a boost up to a 19.7% rating. Salaryman Kintaro and The Glorious Team Bastista also saw its rating go up for their latest episodes with 12.1% and 12.5%, respectively.

Now on to real news:

- The distributor for Chen Kaige’s Mei Lan Fang has confirmed that Twins’ Gillian Chung’s part in the film has been completely excised, with Chen expressing disappointment over the producers’ decision. It also now has a release date of December 12th in Mainland China and January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The Hollywood Reporter looks at the 2nd edition of the Pink Film Festival in Korea, which showcases Japanese erotic films. Funny enough, some audience members at the female-only opening night screenings complained that the films weren’t racy enough. Damn you, internet!!!

- Meanwhile, Variety looks at the Chinese American film festival happening in Hollywood, which will be screening films such as The Warlords and Sparrow.

- Jay Chou and Michelle Yeoh are now shooting Yuen Woo Ping’s latest directorial effort True Legend, telling a story that the Stephen Chow-starring King of Beggars has told before.

- Death Note star Tatsuya Fujiwara is taking on another comic adaptation film, and guess where the film’s first-time director comes from.

- Jason Gray reports that a Japanese movie channel will be showing all 28 Godzilla films over the next three months after it spent money on remastering all the print. Something to check out if you’re in Japan.

- Thanks to the Olympics, advertisement spending in China has reached a record-high this year. Damn capitalist pigs, indeed.

- After a string of retirement announcements, The Japanese Visual Kei band Shazna has announced its breakup after 25 years together.

- Fox is determined to make an aggressive attack on Asian television by revamping their Asian  FX network with some of the edgier programs from American basic and paid cable. Too bad the shows will be censored, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

The Golden Rock - November 3rd, 2008 Edition

Japan had a public holiday today, so a lot of figures can’t be updated yet, as well as less news. We’ll just have to do with what we got.

- Detroit Metal City expanded its dominance of the Hong Kong box office, especially after exhibitors added 7 more screens after its great opening day gross. From 26 screens, the crazy Japanese comedy made HK$929,000 on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.16 million. It’s certain that it’ll do better than 20th Century Boys, but we’ll wait and see whether it’ll do Death Note numbers.  On the other hand, Saw V didn’t get the adult audience boost that category III films get over the weekend. From 25 screens, the horror sequel made only HK$368,000 on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.57 million.

On the other hand, family film City of Ember did get a minor family film boost over the weekend with a Sunday take of HK$237,000 from 22 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$840,000. The indie comedy Smart People didn’t do so well, making HK$91,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$320,000. Miki Kotani’s hilarious The Magic Hour did much better on its limited release run over the weekend, making HK$40,000 from just 2 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$130,000.

As for other films, High School Musical 3 got its weekend boost, making HK$813,000 from 40 screens on Sunday for a 10-day total of HK$7.64 million, which means it’ll definitely break the HK$10 million barrier. Tropic Thunder hangs on fairly well in its second weekend, making HK$486,000 from 31 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.76 million, and has already has a better Hong Kong gross than Ben Stiller’s last film The Heartbreak Kid. Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies has a 24-day total of HK$5.89 million (so close to that HK$6 million!!!!), Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona has a 24-day total of HK$2.8 million, and Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers is a bit of a bust, with just HK$5.74 million after 24 days.

-Tsui Siu-Ming’s martial arts-themed Champions also had preview screenings over the weekend here in Hong Kong. However, the Hong Kong Film blog looked at the ticket presales and saw a strange pattern. While most films would first sell out the middle and back rows, the seat charts the blogger found saw seat sales all over the place, including those in the front rows sold before those in the back were. Were those seats already bought out to create the illusion of packed preview screenings? Or were they just bought up to be passed out internally? Either way, it certainly seems shady.

- The American Film Market is about to get underway on Wednesday, one day after the U.S. presidential election and smack dab in the middle of a financial crisis. With Pusan and Tokyo already happening in the last two months, how will Asian films do at the market? Variety looks at expectations the attendees have before it all begins.

Japan’s Avex just paid one of the highest prices ever paid by a Japanese company for a Korean drama, except that it just flopped in the ratings with only a 7.1% for its premiere episode.

Not much news, and it’s getting late. So let’s wrap it up here. Hopefully there’s more tomorrow.

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2008 Edition

Four more films to go at the HKAFF - Today is Claustrophobia and The Window is Yours, another PIA Film Festival film after yesterday’s Mime Mime and the PIA Film Festival talk.

- It’s looking to be a more active weekend at the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Tropic Thunder opened on top on Thursday with HK$531,000 from 31 screens. However, it’s not going to top the weekend box office, as the Hong Kong Film blog reports that High School Musical 3, which didn’t open until Friday here, opened with HK$1.15 million and will lead theweekend box office by a very large margin.

Even though a total of six films opened this weekend, only one other film got on the top 10 on Thursday, and that’s the film version of the TV drama Kurosagi. From just 3 screens, the swindler drama made HK$32,000 and will do relatively well for it’s limited number of screens. On the other hand, both Jacob Cheung’s Ticket and the Korean film A Man Who Was Superman opened on five screens, while Wushu - The Young Generation opened on 14 screens. None of them made more than HK$30,000 to get on Thursday’s top 10. I don’t expect to see them on Monday, either.

-The Japanese film Departures, which won the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival and will represent Japan at the Academy Awards, has become a surprise hit for distributor Shochiku. It has now recorded more than 2 million admissions and made nearly 2.5 billion yen with no signs of dropping out of the top 10 soon.

Box Office Mojo has caught up with the Japan box office numbers, so it’s a good time to look at how other films are doing. Departures lost only 31% of its past weekend’s gross in its 6th week, and it’s the smallest drop in the top 10. The biggest drop goes to Wanted, which lost 55% in its 5th week. Even though Suspect X was on top for the 3rd weekend in a row, it lost nearly 40% of business, although this is fairly normal after a holiday weekend. Also worth noticing is that the box office has gotten so quiet that 3rd place film P.S. I Love You’s gross is 215% of the 4th place Departures. Also very depressing is the second weekend of Warner Bros.’ Get Smart, which saw a two-thirds drop in its second weekend and out of the top 10. Ouch.

- The Tokyo Film Festival Market has wrapped up on Friday, and while things didn’t match the excitement of opening day, organizers (at leasy Variety) were very happy, especially since so may buyers decided to skip the Asian Film Market in Pusan.

Meanwhile, Friend of Golden Rock Jason Gray was in the middle of it all, and posts the second part of his report on his blog.

Also, The Golden Rock will be offering a more personal perspective on the world of film market pitching hopefully next week. No worries, I’m not the one doing the pitching.

- The Pang Brothers have directed and produced 8 released movies under Universe since for 4 years. Now expect 10 more years and at least 2 confirmed films.

- China’s Huayi Brothers has announced a set of four films by major directors - Tsui Hark, Feng Xiaogang, Jack Neo, and Chen Kuo-Fu. Not sure if I’m excited about any of them, though.

- Earlier I reported that Red Cliff female lead Lin Chi-Ling signed on to be in Beverly Hills Ninja 2, which is set to be shot in Korea. However, Lin has now dropped out of the film, which now makes David Hasselhoff the biggest star on the film. As cool as the Hoff is, I’m not surprised if the Korean investors are now reconsidering the whole thing. Or they can always cast Vicky Zhao, the other Red Cliff female star.

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews 90-year old veteran art director Takeo Kimura’s first film Yume no Mani Mani, which is playing at this Tokyo theater. Is that Asano in the trailer?  Variety’s Derek Elley looks at two Korean films - the hit period film The Divine Weapon and Choi Ho’s 70s music film Go Go 70s.

- Kind of like a review is this week’s Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri, which looks at the Kyoka Suzuki-led drama Scandal.

- If you’re a Spongebob fan in China, start rejoicing: CCTV is bringing back 30 episodes of the popular American animated series after its last airing in December 2007.

- It’s a good weekend for Japanese trailers: Nippon Cinema brings us the trailers for the Takeshi Kaneshiro-starring action film K-20 and the latest “animal doing human jobs” film Neko Ramen Taisho, about a cat that becomes a ramen chef. Brilliant!

- The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, to be given out in Australia next month, has picked its competition jury.

- Japanese-American pop singer melody. has suddenly announced her retirement as a music artist, deciding that she will follow her dream to become a clothes designer. Her last high-profile job was the host of NHK’s English-language, oversea-aimed music show J-Melo, which presents Japanese pop music videos every week.

The Golden Rock - October 21st, 2008 Edition

A quick update because of a lack of time:

- First, here are how the opening films are doing at the Hong Kong box office after 5 days in theaters:

Mirrors - HK$1.97 million - 31 screens
The Vampire Who Admires Me - HK$1 million - 27 screens
Awake  - HK$420,000 - 10 screens (opened on 13 screens)
Accuracy of Death - HK$170,000 - 3 screens.

As for the others, Body of Lies is now at HK$4.94 million after 11 days, Butterfly Lovers is behind with HK$4.87 million after 11 days, Painted Skin is still under the HK$10 million mark with HK$9.87 million after 20 days, Connected has passed the HK$13 million mark with HK$13.06 million after 26 days, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona is doing well (by Woody Allen standards) with HK$1.89 million after 11 days, and Mamma Mia is still going with HK$11.87 million after 40 days.

- At the Japanese box office attendance chart, Suspect X (the film spin-off of TV drama Galileo) gets its third weekend at the number one spot. Hollywood films Eagle Eye and P.S. I Love You open at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Departures continues its strong run at 4th place, and Ponyo jumps back up to 8th place.

-The fall 2008 drama season in Japan is coming to a great start for some of the major networks. Fuji has great premiere ratings for Celeb to Binbou Taro (17.6% rating) and The Glorious Team Bastista (15.2% for their troubled Tuesday 10pm spot is pretty good), while Kaze no Garden holds on to a respectable 18.0 rating in its second week. TBS has the highest-rated drama premiere with Ryusei no Kizuna (21.2% rating), with its Sunday night drama Scandal premiering with a promising 16.9 rating. On the other hand, NTV’s highest-rated drama is currently Scrap Teacher, with only a 12+ rating so far for both episodes.

Still, TBS and Fuji have their share of disappointments: the expensive terrorist drama Bloody Monday (co-produced with film distributor Toho) is still at 11.4% rating after two weeks, while Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Room of King has fallen to single-digit ratings for its second week in a row. More next week, when the rest of the private network dramas premiere.

All drama sypnoses are at Tokyograph.

- The Tokyo International Film Festival is off to a strange start this year: First, guests at opening film Red Cliff were walking out because only one of the two screens had an Englush-subtitled print. Then competition jury chairman Jon Voight raised his hands towards the ceiling while thanking Akira Kurosawa in Japanese during his opening remarks. Maybe it’s the green carpet.

- Meanwhile, at the Contents market, American producers came together to talk about the challenges of remaking Asian films for the western market.

- Japanese electronic pop group Perfume, featuring three almost overly spunky girls, is certainly having their biggest year ever: they have now sold more DVDs than pop divas such as Koda Kumi and Namie Amuro. I think it’s the voice and their excellent lip-syncing.

-Hong Kong film producer Universe is looking at another year of loss as video sales drop 30% and theatrical takings dropped by 12%, mainly due to the lack of a true hit film. If I remember correctly, their only releases this year so far are See You in Youtube (which was a surprise moderate hit) and Sparrow, neither of which got even past the HK$7 million mark. Of course, they blame internet piracy instead.

- The role of internet libel in the recent string of celebrity suicides in South Korea have sparked talks of imposing restrictions on free speech on the internet. Of course, there are theories that suggest it’s the government’s way of suppressing dissent.

- It’s reviews time! Derek Elley looks at two Mainland Chinese films this time - first the Chinese Academy Awards representative Dream Weavers - Beijing 2008, then the so-bad-it’s-hilarious Kung Fu Hip Hop. I’m surprised he didn’t mention the horrendous subtitles.

- Lastly, Hong Kong actress Gigi Lai, who may be best known to foreign viewers for her role in the Young and Dangerous movies, has announced that she will retire to take care of her ailing younger brother’s business. Of course, Hong Kong viewers will continue to see her on the small screen until February as one of the three female leads on the new 82-episode TVB drama The Gem of Life. Yes, that’s 82.

The Golden Rock - October 19th, 2008 Edition

A quick entry before going off for another film at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (tonight it’s Kenji Uchida’s After School).

- Judging from Thursday opening day box office numbers in Hong Kong, it’s looking to be a rather quiet weekend when the numbers come out tomorrow. Mirrors, the Hollywood remake of the Korean film Into the Mirror, opened on top with HK$275,000 from 31 screens. The new Wong Jing-produced horror film The Vampire Who Admires Me managed to make HK$202,000 from 27 screens, but it would be a miracle if it even makes it to HK$2 million. The Hollywood thriller Awake made HK$49,000 from 13 screens, and Accuracy of Death made an OK HK$25,000 from just 3 screens. More tomorrow with the weekend numbers.

-Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin has now passed the 200 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office, placing it along the ranks of The Warlords and Red Cliff, except it’s not as good.

- Just before the temporary relaxed regulations for foreign journalists in China during the Olympics was due to expire, the Chinese authorities decided to extend those regulations. However, nothing has changed for domestic journalist, and Chinese nationals are still not allowed to be full-time correspondants for foreign networks.

- First Cuts, the project created by Andy Lau’s Focus Group to find young talents, has announced the first four filmmakers for the second stage of the project, which will now set its sights mainly in the Mainland Chinese market. The first project’s biggest success was Crazy Stone, by Mainland Chinese director Ning Hao. The first project also featured films from Malaysia and Lam Chi-Chung’s I’ll Call You. Too bad Lam followed it with The Luckiest Man.

- The Tokyo Drama Award, part of the International Drama Festival during the Japan CoFesta, has given out its first prizes. The grand prize went to two dramas - drama special Ten to Sen and made-for-cable drama Pandora. Believe it or not, Last Friends, which deals with domestic violence, gender identity crisis, and even incest, won Kids and Youth category.

- Speaking of CoFesta, the event’s major event - The Tokyo International Film Festival  - is underway with John Woo’s Red Cliff as the opening film. Japan’s Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the festival this weekend.

- And speaking of Japanese dramas, The Daily Yomiuri’s Televiews column for this week looks at this season’s newest dramas, all of which are potential contenders for next year’s Tokyo Drama Awards.

- With the Korean film industry experiencing a downturn this year, companies are seeing the chance in filling the screens with films that have been sitting on their shelves instead of investing in new productions.

- This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the indie horror film Peeping Tom (Makiguri no Ana).

- Lastly, Variety finally mentions that Korean pop star BoA is venturing into the American music market.

The Golden Rock - October 14th, 2008 Edition

- The Japanese cinema attendance figure for Saturday and Sunday is finally out after the holiday weekend. Suspect X, the film version of the hit drama Galileo, retains its number 1 spot, and the Masked Rider movie also retains its number 2 spot. The surprise this weekend is the boost for Departures from 5th place to 3rd place. It may be because of the news of actor Toru Minegishi’s death, or it may be due to really good word-of-mouth (as shown by its small 17.6% drop in the second weekend). Lastly, only one opening film made the top 10, and that’s Get Smart at 10th place.

- In Korea, Eagle Eye debuts at 1st place, while aspiring blockbuster Modern Boy drops to 3rd place. Kim Ki Duk finally sees another one of his film land on the top 10, as Dreams open at 6th place after opening on over 100 screens.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- South Korean gangster drama Fate opened last weekend in Japan, but the Korean wave has been fading away for a long time in Japan. From 94 screens, the film only made 23.87 million yen, which is only 37% of the opening for Running Wild.

- Twitch has the link to a trailer for the game Ni No Kuni, whose animated sequence are done by Studio Ghibli and even features a score by Joe Hisaishi.

- Another work that was unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show this year is the Japan-produced full-length CG-animated Resident Evil film, which will be released this weekend in Japanese theaters.

- Park Chan Wook has reportedly finished shooting his latest vampire film Thirst, which has been rumored to feature Song Kang Ho in some explcit sex scenes. Park also said that this is the best film he’s ever done, which means it better be pretty damn good.

- Looks like Japanese TV network TBS is about to stir some controversy with its upcoming drama special, which has casted Takeshi Kitano as Hideki Tojo, who was prime minister during World War II and was executed as one of the major war criminals after the war.

The Golden Rock - October 13th, 2008 Edition

- As I predicted, Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers came back from behind over the weekend to beat Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, the idols period flick made HK$761,079 from 36 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.67 million. Meanwhile, Body of Lies made HK$734,000 from 35 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.6 million. While Body of Lies has one less screen and runs 20 minutes longer, it also attracts the higher-priced adult tickets, while Butterfly Lovers attracted the lower-priced student tickets, so there’s essentially no handicap for either film.

As for other openers, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona did pretty well on its relatively limited release (although this is pretty wide for Woody Allen). It made HK$261,000 from 16 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$890,000, which is reportedly better than Match Point already. The Hollywood rom-com My Best Friend’s Girl did slightly better during the weekend, making HK$110,000 from just 13 screens, but it still only made HK$280,000 after 4 days.

Painted Skin lost almost half of its audience over the weekend, making HK$517,000 from 30 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total (it says 19, but it’s really 11) of HK$8.28 million (minus the possibly bogus HK$350,000 gross from its “one-week run”). Connected is proving relatively long legs, making HK$382,000 from 34 screens on Sunday. After 18 days, Benny Chan’s action thriller has made HK$11.91 million. The Duchess also hangs on during its second weekend in limited release, making HK$67,000 from 6 screens for a 12-day total of HK$1.36 million. 20th Century Boys has passed the HK$6 million mark after 18 days after making HK$87,000 from 14 screens. Lastly, Mamma Mia is now at 11.56 million after 32 days, and Eagle Eye is at HK$6.14 million after 18 days.

-It’s a public holiday in Japan today, so all we have today is last week’s drama ratings. The Fall 2008 season has started, and as reported last week, Kaze no Garden is leading the pack with a 20.1% rating for its premiere episode. Yume wo Kanaeru Zou takes a big drop for its second episode, losing nearly 43% of its audience for a 4.1% rating in its second week. OL Nippon, from the writer of the successful Haken no Hinkaku, flops in its first episode with just a 8.3% rating. Fuji’s Saturday night 11pm drama fails to outdo last season’s 33-Minute Detective, but outdoes Hachi One Diver’s premiere with a 10.4% rating.

All drama synoses can be found on Tokyograph.

- Mamoru Oshii’s Sky Crawlers won big at the Sitges Film Festival, picking up 3 prizes, including the Best Motion Picture Award from the youth jury.

Also, the Korean thriller The Chaser picked up Orient Express~Casa Asia award for Best Picture, and Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad and The Weird picked up two awards in the main competition section.

- Jason Gray reports that the new Japanese food film Flavor of Happiness has been acquired by a French distributor that will be opening it on 40 screens. That’s more than double the screens the film got for its opening weekend in Japan.

Mark Schilling of the Japan Times gave a rave for the film last week.

- Twitch has a trailer for the Mamoru Oshii-led anthology Kill~Kiru, which is essentially four action finales for four films that don’t really exist. It look like a maybe-maybe not. We’ll know how it is after it premieres at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

I found out during a random look yesterday at the Now TV movie trailer channel that there’s a trailer out for the Wong Jing-produced cheapie flick The Vampire Who Admires Me. Here it is in all its Youtube glory.

-The comedian management agency Yoshimoto Kogyo last year announced that its large cast of comedians will be directing 100 short films. Now the agency plans to start the Okinawa International Movie Festival next March, and those 100 films will be part of the program.

- Korea Pop War’s Mark Russell has seen Kim Ki Duk’s latest Dream, starring Jo Odagiri and Lee Na Young, and he posts his thoughts on the film and Kim Ki Duk in general.

- Salon Films, hot off the success of their first film Painted Skin at the Chinese box office, is now set to make nine more films. Four of the films, all English-language films, will be made with the recently established multinational Asian film fund and will be shot in China. One of the other five films will be a sequel to Eat Drink Man Woman, which doesn’t seem to have Ang Lee’s name attached…yet?

- Veteran Japanese actor Toru Minegishi, who last appeared in the acclaimed film Departures and I probably last saw him in TV drama Karei Naru Ichizoku, passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 65.

The Golden Rock - October 10th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like it’ll be a quiet weekend at the Hong Kong box office. Especially disappointing is the opening day for Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers, which opened on 36 screens with a HK$389,280 take. But it’s only at second place, because Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies not only opened on less screens (33) with less showings (it runs 20 minutes longer), but it also made HK$389,419, beating it by HK$139, which is roughly two tickets. Talking about a close one.

Butterfly Lovers does have two things going for it: 1) It appeals more to younger audiences, which means it probably sold more student tickets at a lower price. 2) The young idol chasers will likely flock to this over the weekend when they’re out of school. So I expect this to get a bigger boost over the weekend than Body of Lies.

As for the other opening films, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona opened on 16 screens and made just under HK$106,000, and the Hollywood comedy My Best Friend’s Girl opened on 12 screens for just a take of HK$28,000. More on Monday with the weekend numbers.

- Box office gross for this year’s week-long National Day holiday in China is up 220%(!) from the same period last year. This year, it’s thanks to the RMB100 million+ 7-day take of Painted Skin (which has now made RMB 170 million in total), the RMB 21.6 million take for Connected during the same period), as well as Journey to the Center of the Earth’s RMB 21 million take.

- The new Japanese drama Kaze no Garden, which features actor Ken Ogata in his last role before passing away last week, scored a tremendous 20.1% premiere this past week.

- Tokyograph has unveiled its comprehensive guide to the Fall 2008 season Japanese dramas, and there are quite a few interesting ones this season. Fall seasons tend to do much better than the summer seasons, so hopefully ratings report will be more interesting to do this time around.

- Even though Warner Bros. has not done very well recently in Japan with either its Hollywood productions (The Dark Knight, Speed Racer, Nights in Rodanthe) nor its Japan productions (Sky Crawlers, Sushi Ouji, Sweet Rain), it still plans to boost local productions in the country.

- One of WB Japan’s upcoming releases is Ichi, director Fumihiko Sori’s take on the Zatoichi legend using a female lead, and Twitch has an advance review of it.

- Believe it or not, there’s actually been odds on Japanese author Haruki Murakami winning the Nobel Literature Prize since 2006, even though he’s missed out on it for 3 years running now.

- I’ll be watching three movies at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival tomorrow, and I’ll be offering short thoughts for at least two of the films. In its 5th edition, the HKAFF has become Hong Kong’s second biggest film festival. However, this year is also looking to be the most controversial year ever.

Still, it should be all about the movies. That’s what I care about, and that’s where I’ll be tomorrow. See you all on Sunday.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2008 Edition

- While Suspect X, the film adapatation of hit TV drama Galileo, did open pretty big in Japan this past weekend, it actually didn’t do as well as Toho and Fuji TV had probably hoped. On 410 screens, the detective-pseudo-science mystery made 544 million yen, which was enough to put it at first place. However, the opening is just 54% of the openings for Hero and Boys Over Flowers, which means it’s looking to do about half of what those films did, making it a slight disappointment, despite still being a major hit.

Mr. Texas also breaks down who went to see the movie. With the appeal of star Masaharu Fukuyama, it’s no surprise that females made up 65% of the audience. Also, 19.7% of the audience named him as the main reason of going to see the film (while 27.2% went because they were fans of the drama). However, unlike Boys Over Flowers, whose audience mostly comprised of females under 20 years old, Suspect X’s biggest demographic are working adults, which made up 43% of the audience. Does this mean films that skew slightly older wouldn’t make as much money? Does that mean that it might have a longer run because that demographic wouldn’t necessarily rush out to the see the film on opening weekend?

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation takes the top spot of the album charts. This time it’s Mariya Takeuchi’s 3-CD compilation, which makes her the artist with the longest career at the time of a #1 album. On the single charts, boy band NEWS debuts at number 1 with their latest, while the new Kou Shibasaki/Masaharu Fukuyama collaboration (for the Galileo film) only managed a 5th place debut.

More at Tokyograph

- As Pusan wraps up, it’s time to link to some final pieces of news from the festival. The Pusan Promotion Plan has handed out its prizes, giving the top prize to Malaysian film Forget-me-not, while Secret Sunshine director Lee Chang Dong won about $17,000 worth of negative stock for his latest film.

The Asian Film Market in Pusan looked quiet and didn’t do much business, but people were staying busy for other reasons during the market, which was enough to qualify the festival as a success.

However, Variety has a different story, with buyers complaining that the market is geared towards Korean buyers, and the Korean film industry is in such a bad shape that most people just window shopped rather than making deals.

One deal did happen: An American production company brought up the remake rights to the Korean film Driving With My Wife’s Lover, which has been earning favorable reviews all around.

Lastly, here is a roundup of reviews that played at Pusan from Screen Daily’s critics.

OK, bring on the Tokyo CoFesta!

- Despite Screen Daily reporting Korean distributors’ reluctance to release Japanese films in Korea due to Boy Over Flowers and 20th Century Boys‘ lackluster performances, yet another Japanese film will be opening in Korea. And Hong Kong as well. To be fair, Tokyo Girl isn’t exactly a major blockbuster, which means the rights probably didn’t cost all that much.

- Japanese award-winning actor Ken Watanabe is going back to his small-screen roots, playing the lead in an upcoming TV drama special (essentially a TV movie) as a real-life police detective that became the model of many police procedural dramas.

- Despite being in the midst of political turmoil, as well being on the heels of a relatively successful world-class film festival, Bangkok is ready to unleash yet another film festival come October 24th.

In other film festival news, the Tokyo Filmex has unveiled the lineup for this year’s edition, while Jason Gray reminds you that all the films will be subtitled in English!

- Alexi Tan, who’s probably still reeling from the overall response to his debut film Blood Brothers, has come back, but only for clothing company Diesel and their latest line of jeans. Twitch has the trailer to the short film, which will go public on the 12th. Todd Brown sees possible greatness, I see much much less.

- Korean pop singer Son Dam Bi is going to Hollywood with the dance film Hype, and I already bet she either won’t have any lines or will play some white guy’s love interest. But that’s just me all bitter-talking.

- Japanese actor Ken Ogata passed away on Sunday. He was a veteran on stage, TV, and films, and he has been acting for 50 years. His last role was on the upcoming TV drama Kaze no Garden. He was 71.

 
 
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